The five technologies set to impact the energy, oil and gas industry in the year ahead. By Graeme Wright

The world is experiencing some of the most significant geopolitical, economic and technologically advanced changes of the past five decades. Without doubt, industries across the board are facing uncertainty, with the unknown resulting in a landscape of nervousness about what the future holds. However, amidst all of this uncertainty, has been the constant of the everincreasing rate of technological change, and the energy, oil and gas industry is no exception.

So, what are the key technologies that are currently impacting the sector and, furthermore, set to drive even further change for energy, oil and gas companies?

Quantum
Quantum computing, while seemingly a futuristic concept, it is much closer than we might think. We have already seen advancements thanks to quantum inspired computing, accelerating the speed and power at which organisations can solve complex problems.

This could be huge for the energy, oil and gas industry and help companies optimise and take pressure off their power grids and networks. Quantum inspired computing will allow energy, oil and gas companies to make advanced production optimisation and trading calculations, which will help them reach new capabilities which will be critical to the sector as it looks to address the challenge of producing energy to power economies and meet consumers’ needs, while looking at new ways of managing the risks involved of climate change.

Moving to the edge
In the world of work for energy, oil and gas companies, a sizable proportion of its skilled workforce and assets are out in the field away from the corporate centre. Undertaking repetitive visual inspection tasks across quality control is not only monotonous for the engineer, but it adds significant costs to operations, in a period where price pressures are ever increasing. These current processes are also susceptible to human error, risking product quality with potential reputational damage.

Next year, we expect to see more companies in the sector begin to deploy Edge computing, using IoT and computer vision to bring the digital and physical worlds together. As a result, they will be able to use this technology to better monitor their equipment, receive image analysis and image recognition which can be used to identify and fix any problems, quality issues or security threats much more quickly and efficiently and enable their workforce to focus on bigger, more time-consuming tasks.

Digital Twins
As the sector looks to find digital ways of planning, designing and simulating situations to improve operations, we expect to see a further increase in the use of ‘Digital Twins’. The term ‘Digital Twins’ is where companies build digital models of the physical world, creating a digital replica or ‘twin’.

Through this, energy, oil and gas companies can run simulations and optimisations of their equipment and harness insights of these simulations and as a result make decisions and execute them with accuracy. Digital twins will help drive efficiency across energy, oil and gas companies as they will already have run the digital version of the operation before executing it in the physical world, and therefore will have the version that works best on the first attempt, rather than having to continually test and tweak it, saving time and money for the organisation.

Building security in the bedrock
As companies in the sector become more connected and data driven businesses, the need to have security integrated and built into the foundations and all aspects of the business will only increase. More and more networks will become connected and companies will be receiving consumer data and insights and so the need for tougher and more robust security measures has never been so essential.

While connectivity and data can open a range of new possibilities for organisations, it also exposes added chances for hackers to attack, which could have severe repercussions as we have seen on numerous companies both financially and reputationally. Security therefore needs to be built in by design and incorporated in an energy, oil and gas company’s core and play a fundamental part of the processes and polices to protect the systems and data.

Augmented reality
Augmented Reality (AR) has widely been spoken about and adopted in the realms of gaming and entertainment. However, in the energy, oil and gas sector, there are some truly transformative ways that AR can be used to improve employees’ ways of working.

For the first time in history, we have five generations in the workforce. As a result, not only do these different generations have different knowledge and skill sets, but the eldest generation will be moving into retirement, or to less physically demanding tasks, taking with them their vast years of experience. Through implementing the use of AR however, companies in the sector can transfer this knowledge to new entrants in the company, providing on-site guidance from experienced colleagues.

Another form of adopting AR for employees in the field is by having a two-way video on a head-mounted display which provides step-by-step advice on how to make fixes. In the year ahead, we expect to see the use of AR increasingly adopted to improve ways of working for the workforce.

For companies in the energy, oil and gas that want to capitalise on the new opportunities that technologies such as AR, digital twins, security, moving to the edge and quantum has to offer, they need to be savvy to the ways in which they can adapt and advance their business. By seeking the right initiatives and understanding how technology can support their business, they can create new, and safer ways of working for employees, run more successful operations and give them longevity in such a disruptive market. In the end, those that are agile and embrace it will reap the rewards in the years to come.

Fujitsu UK
Graeme Wright is CTO for Manufacturing, Utilities, and Services at Fujitsu UK. Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services and employing over 9000 people in the UK and Ireland.
For further information please visit: www.fujitsu.com/uk/